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RE: off topic - painted fish hypocrisy

Hi Wright et al,

I am certainly not in favor of any animal cruelty. But I have personally
seen various dyed fish live long and happy lives in home aquariums. The
painted glass fish eventually faded and became regular glass fish, the dyed
botias seemed to retain their color better. I personally can not attest to
any detriment to the fish from the point that they leave the pet shop.

If the dying process itself is cruel, or inhumane I certainly am not in
favor of it. On the other hand if it is done with a minimum of discomfort
for the fish, it does make for a desirable consumer product. Pet shops that
no longer carry the painted glass fish have not replaced them with the
natural variety. I have also noticed that the gumball parrot fish are more
popular than the undyed ones. In at least one pet shop they are the only
ones commonly available. I personally do not own any dyed fish, but as a
killie hobbyist I am a minority in the hobby.

Yesterday I overheard a woman asking a sales clerk how many adult tiger
barbs she should buy. As the sales clerk responded with a blank stare, I
fielded the question for him. I asked how large her fish tank was and she
held her hands about 8" apart. I estimated her fish tank to be either a 2.5
or 5 gal variety. I showed her to the bettas and fancy guppies. Her son had
moved on from the tiger barbs while his mom was distracted and was insisting
on baby African cichlids. Given maternal love, and a persistent child, I
have little doubt that the fancy guppies will soon be sharing the same small
confines with tiger barbs and African cichlids. The resultant empty fish
tank will no doubt be maintained in the attic until it is finally discarded,
but not before it become a killing ground for countless innocent fish.

The vast majority of painted fish will be tossed into tiny fish tanks where
they will be underfed or overfed or fed something that they will not eat.
They will swim around in unacceptable water conditions and never get a water
change. Or maybe they will be kept in a fish tank with other fish that will
eat or shred them. In any case the vast majority of painted fish were doomed
from the beginning.  This is true of most fish in the hobby.

The real tragedy is how "pet fish" are treated throughout their captive
lives. Our hobby is one that thrives on animal cruelty. I hate to say it,
but it is never the less true. The more fish people kill the more fish
stores sell. The more money they make. It is simple economy.  When we sell
our fish do we diligently follow up to make sure that they are going to good
homes or that they are being properly cared for? Of course not. Is there
anyone on this list that has not missed a water change, or tried and failed
at keeping a new fish? Now how about keeping fish in tanks that are too
small or too crowded, does anyone still feel entirely innocent?

Lets face facts, going into your LFS and railing against animal cruelty may
make us feel better about ourselves, but we are deluding ourselves if we
think that we are improving the situation for ornamental fish.  Most pet
shop employees know that the majority of the fish they sell are more likely
to live lives measured in terms of weeks or days rather than years. If
people stop buying painted glass fish they will just languish in wholesalers
fish tanks or be destroyed to free up space. If wholesalers do not order the
fish the breeding operation will flush their stock and breeders and will
just raise something else.  If everyone stopped buying turkeys for holiday
dinners, what do you think will happen to the turkeys? Does anyone really
believe that they will be bred and kept on large rural farms to live out
their lives in blissful anticipation of a natural death due to old age?
Most of the painted fish were originally slow movers at best. Their
popularity is due to their bright colors. No demand means no breeders, which
in turn means no fish. Some other poor fish is just going to replace them.
Ornamental fish are pretty much doomed from birth. In fact, that is pretty
much true of most small fish even in the wild.

Breeding animals for human consumption is not limited to food animals, or
tropical fish. Earlier this year I stopped by an animal shelter. I will not
take your time to relay what I found there, but suffice it to say that those
cute puppies that you see in your pet shop may be man's best friend but in
the long run we are certainly not theirs.  As animal keepers and maybe as
humans in general, there is an element of cultivated indifference prevalent
in our nature.  As a whole killiefolk are probably among the best of the
group.  Most of us diligently care for our fish. We breed more fish than we
kill. We breed fish rather than collect out a natural site, but we are not
blameless. Most of us have purchased wild caught fish. We screwed up and
killed fish. We have missed water changes. And we have all made mistakes
along the way. Just because we do not keep painted fish should not
necessarily make us feel much better, certainly we do not feel guilty enough
to give up the hobby, but we are in no position to throw stones at pet shop
owners trying to make a living or people that want painted fish.

Some years ago I was having a philosophical conversation with my college
roommate.  We were discussing the nature and quality of one's life being
determined at the point of birth.  When he commented that the worst thing he
could imagine was to be born a common goldfish.  The natural outcome of such
an inauspicious birth would naturally be a short tragic life. Most goldfish
are fed to something else, die in a tiny bowl, swallowed alive as a college
prank, die during shipping or if they are really lucky liberated into a
local bass pond (now there is a real irony for you).  Despite all of the
conversation about the mistreatment of painted fish, I have yet to hear
anyone protest the plight of the feeder goldfish, feeder guppy or even the
ever popular pink minnow sold in pet shops.

I am not suggesting that we picket pet shops, stop eating meat, or break
into the dog pound to set the animals free, I am just suggesting that before
we climb up on soap boxes we need to take a long look into the mirror and
realize that our hobby has a long way to go before it even begins to be
humane. As things stand oriental fish usually share the same fate as fish
caught or bred for the more common form of human consumption.  As I
mentioned I am not in favor of any intentional animal cruelty, but I am not
in favor of hypocrisy either. I intend no offense to those who have voiced
their objections to dying fish, I may in fact concur with them, I just
intend to frame the subject in a larger context of a hobby that borders on
the barbarian from the viewpoint of many a fish.  I think that we need to
find ways to improve the treatment for ornamental fish in general rather
than investing our efforts on painted fish. This list goes a long way
towards that goal but we can do more.  The most important thing that we can
do is to teach new hobbyists at every available opportunity and to
concentrate on better ways to raise and breed fish in captivity. We need to
support long term maintenance of species and encourage captive breeding
programs. We should support the local pet shop owner that will not sell an
Oscar to a customer with a 5 gal aquarium already stocked with 30 other
fish. Maybe local fish clubs should offer regular beginners seminars and set
up an educational program.  I believe that painted fish are a very small
issue in a hobby that has some really serious ethical problems.  Maybe the
entire concept of fish keeping as a hobby may be incorrect. After all we do
not consider a dog or a cat a hobby, do we?

I do want to apologize to anyone I might have offended in advance,
mistreatment of animals is offensive to me. But all too often people focus
their attention on the tree and neglect the forest. Assuming that the dying
process is painful or detrimental to the fish and countless numbers are
killed during the procedure as has been implied, it should not be
encouraged, but our objections should be directed at the inhumane nature of
the hobby as a whole. There are much bigger endemic issues that should be
addressed with our best efforts.  If we can get the message out that fish
are living, feeling creatures the issue of painted fish will resolve itself.
On the other hand as long as fish are equated with other ornamental
consumables we are never going to make any real progress.

A friend of mine purchased a couple of very lucky painted fish, I helped him
set up the tank, instructed him in its maintenance and gave him detailed
stocking instructions that included two optional fish entirely of his
choosing. I admit I was disappointed when he added two painted fish. The
colors faded but the fish lived on, actually they lived longer than their
reasonably anticipated lifespans.  Painted or not they had a happy ending
and I finally found a way to end this missive on an up note.



-----Original Message-----
From: owner-killietalk at aka_org [mailto:owner-killietalk at aka_org]On
Behalf Of Wright Huntley
Sent: Thursday, January 23, 2003 2:36 PM
To: killietalk at aka_org
Subject: Re: off topic


Whether it is painted glass fish or other species, the process is a bit
cruel, and probably does the fish no good. Eventually, they absorb the
fluorescent dye and revert to their natural colorless condition, if they
don't die first.

I encourage stores who stock them to stop doing so, and even go so far as to
boycott them for all fish products if they persist. This does little or no
good, if you don't have the courage to seek out the manager and let him know
how you feel about it. Be very polite but firm. They have to stock what
people want to buy, and the kiddies do like the day-glow effect a lot.

It may help to point out to them that many large aquarium societies have
urged their members to boycott stores who carry the dyed fish.

The public will only get the word if you help spread it.

What a pity that the stores' need for colorful fish often misses the whole
world of killifish. Nevertheless, there are lots of naturally colorful fish,
like guppies, so they don't really need to contribute to torture of little

That's my US$0.02. YMMV



George & Melanie Caruso wrote:
> I have seen something like this from a company called Aquatic Eco Systems.
They offer two species of fish. The Medakafish and the Zebrafish. They call
them Transgenic fish.They do some kind of microinjection with genes into
embryos. The results are some pretty electric colored fish. The fish are
sterile and can not reproduce. They use the genes from jellyfish in one
case. I don't know if this
> is the same thing as you are talking about, but it may be.
> George
> Michael Reid wrote:
>>My name is Paige. And my name is Paisley. We are fifth graders from Mr.
Reid's class.We were wondering if you knew the scientific name for Tropical
Fruit Treasers?  Wal-Mart is the store we are planning to buy from. This is
how it looks there is color injected into their bodys. they are about 3
centimeters long.they are tropical fish.We know it is not a Killifish. Thank
You for your help!
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Wright Huntley -- 209 521-0557 -- 731 Loletta Ave, Modesto CA 95351

      All K-Mart and Walmart stores to be closed in Iraq.
              They will be replaced by Targets.


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